Selectmen Candidates Participate in Forum

Reading, MA — A candidate forum featuring the two candidates for Board of Selectmen was hosted by Reading Community Television (RCTV) on Tuesday, March 20. Alan Foulds moderated the forum and it contained questions posed to the candidates by Kevin Vendt of the Reading Post and Joanne Senders of the Reading Advocate.

The forum featured John Arena, candidate for re-election to the Board of Selectmen, and the challenger, Vanessa Alvarado. To begin, each candidate was given the chance to make an opening statement. “I am trained, work-ready, known and capable,” Arena put forth. Alvarado suggested, “We need change and we need it now.” Question topics included the Proposition 2 1/2 override, fees for specific services, relationships with other boards and committees, and economic development. Regarding a split tax rate, Arena and Alvarado disagreed. “There is no benefit to the town,” remarked Arena, though he did suggest that small incremental tax increases on commercial properties could be useful. “A split tax rate would alleviate the burden on taxpayers,” Alvarado countered,“It is reasonable to ask businesses to pay their fair share.”

The two candidates also offered opinions on the use of free cash reserves to balance the operating budget. When referring to sustainability Alvarado commented, “[The use free cash] is not a fiscally prudent policy.” 

Arena suggested, “If our balance is over $10 million, then you can take some risk and fuel the operating budget, $1 million to $1.25 million is prudent.” Both candidates agreed that more work needs to be done on the proposed Eaton Street/Lakeview Avenue 40B project. Alvarado stated that the board needs to act as a liaison between the town and the residents in the neighborhood. Arena believes that the liaison work is happening and “I cannot think of any conversation with a 40B that has gone this well, this early.”

Both candidates support the Proposition 2 1/2 override, with Alvarado adding, “If it fails, we as a community need to do some soul searching.”

The forum was shown live on RCTV and will continue to be aired until election day. The event was also live-streamed and was viewed by interested residents traveling as far away as Washington, D.C. and from airplanes flying 36,000 feet over the mid-west. The forum can also be viewed on RCTV’s YouTube channel. The town election will be on April 3.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email